I'm a huge fan of Ian Falconer and his spunky picture book pig, Olivia, so when I heard there would be a new book this year I couldn't wait to see what he would come up with. In Olivia and the Fairy Princesses, Olivia is over the whole pink princess thing and she's flying her independence flag like never before--illustrated beautifully (of course!) in her sense of style (I
particularly love the Hepburn-inspired ensemble) and career
considerations--of both the princess and non-princess variety. We chose Olivia and the Fairy Princesses as a Best Picture Book of September and learned some interesting tidbits in our exclusive Five Questions with Ian Falconer below. As an added bonus he created the illustration you see here especially for this post. As if I didn't love him enough already...
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH IAN FALCONER:
1.Olivia gives some
serious thought to what she'd like to be instead of a princess--what did you
want to be when you were a kid?
I'm not sure
that I had any career in mind ( as in " I want to be queen."). I
always wanted to make things; to draw pictures, build forts and tree houses,
make rafts and boats ( I was fascinated by Kon-Tiki), make costumes. My father
was an architect--he could build anything--and had a wood shop at home with
huge power saws etc. which he, insanely, let me use, and my mother taught me
how to use a sewing machine--really use a sewing machine--homemade Halloween
costumes were a huge part of the calendar. I could make all kinds of
things with my hands and that's basically what I do now. I can cook too.
the best piece of fan mail you've ever gotten?
I don't even know
where to start with that one, I've had so many letters. I did get one
suggestion for an Olivia plot--from a boy--that had her playing football,
with her making " touchdown after touchdown." It was also
illustrated, with yardlines, ball trajectories, goalposts, stadium... Ha.
you could have one superpower, what would it be? (Flight and invisibility are
off the table)
Apart from the
ability to eliminate new, generic, glass walled, high rise condominium
developments (and the developers) in Manhattan by simply glaring at them, I
would like to be able to draw like Rembrandt or Picasso. Not a lot to ask is
you create the illustrations for Olivia and the Fairy Princesses one at
a time or work on multiple spreads at once?
A children's picture
book has a set number of pages, so the whole book must be planned out-- which
drawings and which words go on which page--before you can start
finishing drawings. I start by getting all the drawings and the text on the
right pages--usually with simple sketches and post-its (so they can be moved
about)--and then start to do more detailed pencil drawings on good paper that
will then be the basis for the finished drawings. So it goes in stages, the
whole book being done to each level of finish at the same time, together. The
first stage is the hardest. Because of the page limits, if you decide to move a
page, or make a single page into a double page, it disrupts all the other pages
in the book. Very tricky.
is your favorite spread from the book, and why?
Oh, I'd have to say
the Martha Graham spread. It is, I think, graphically very elegant and it is
utterly absurd and funny as well. I like the international princesses spread as
well. Well, really, of course I like them all. They wouldn't be in the book